Now what? Life in rural Ariege

Burblings about adjusting to life in the deep south west of France or "la France profonde" as they call it here and the challenges of restoring a ramshackle collection of tumbledown buildings. I mainly write about local festivals, events and celebrations and, most of all, the weekly ritual of combing vide greniers and brocantes for pre-loved vintage treasures.

29 October 2011

Clocks going back - countdown to winter

We're both looking forward to a well deserved lie-in tomorrow thanks to the clocks going back. But this always makes me feel that it's nearly winter and that we're on the rapidly accelerating countdown to Christmas.

The weather has changed. Early mornings are misty, cold and we've already has our first frost.

The snow line is creeping down the mountains. We crossed over the Pyrenees into Spain last weekend and there's definitely snow in them there hills!

The neon board positioned at Lavelanet roundabout has spluttered into life and is now displaying the tariffs for the 2011/2012 ski passes.

I've ordered the wood. This year it is a LOT of wood because I think we're going to have a cold one. This year I've managed to order the logs cut to a size that will actually fit into our log burner without Jeff cutting them...

OK so this is not our wood pile. This incredible display of perfectly graded and stacked logs belongs to a neighbour. Every year I attempt to replicate this and totally fail. Maybe now we're in year 2 of life in Ariege I'll manage.

19 October 2011

New name, same old stuff

To those of you who have been enquiring, my Etsy shop has not disappeared... I have taken the rather drastic step of renaming it. It is now Histoires. I realise that this is not as meterioc as the much loved Marathon bar becoming known as "Snickers" or the changing of the Coca Cola recipe but it has been a source of much deliberation and discussion.

I had discussed my new shop name with a select few, taken on board their suggestions and preferences, and then on the whole totally disregarded them. And I'm very happy with the new name. To me it conveys many things about my merchandise: that is vintage, historic, French and also that it has a story.

Thanks to the talented Suzie Chaney for her support and design input (and copious amounts of wine!!). She listened to me babble on about how I DIDN'T want my shop to look and managed to produce a cool, contemporary yet sympathetic shop banner for Histoires.

So it's all systems go for Histoires.

13 October 2011

Tah dah... Maison Dumay is open

It was a meteroic day for me yesterday as I finally opened my Etsy shop: Maison Dumay. To recap I hadn't been able to open the shop due to a lengthy sojourn in the UK followed by almost total immersion in our renovation project. But yesterday was the big day. I pressed the button on all the draft listings I'd been creating and filled the shop with my rummagings.

I've been generously helped and encouraged by fellow Etsyians which made yesterday a little less daunting but I was still unprepared for my first sale. Overnight my first customer (from China no less) purchased 3 items and I had to smile when I checked my emails this morning.

The first item she had selected was this joyous piece of English kitsch. A truly fabulous hand knitted mustard coloured wool tea cosy with porcelain lady top.

I had bought this stunner at an English auction house over the summer in a mixed lot with 3 glamorous evening bags and I confess I thought the bags would sell quicker than this item!

Sadly I don't think I'm likely to able to find another one like this in France as tea drinking is not widespread here. Oh well, better get back to the rummaging and start daily prayers to the Goddess of Thrift that another one crosses my path.

5 October 2011

Roof works

We're making steady progress with the roof work at our old barns.

The first job for the team was to carefully remove all the lovely old handmade canal tiles which could be saved. They will be reused on the roof of our "remise" which will eventually cover the summer kitchen.

Then the substantial old poutres (beams) which have held the roof up for over 200 years were removed leaving the "gite" section of the house open to the sky.

It was a nail biting moment for our foreman, Gareth, when he hoisted the first of the new poutres up on the materials hoist we had hired.

We all stood well back as the 150 kilo beam was moved slowly up the lift.

Fortunately this went without a hitch and the first of the new wood was balanced on the roof of the stone house. Mouse (left) and Paul (right) lifted off the huge beam.

After constructing an internal platform which they could work off, the team repaired the tops of the walls and man-handled the new beams into position.

The picture below shows the top of the triple row of Genoese tiling on the front of the gite.

Harry has cleaned them off so that a layer of lime mortar can be put on top to form a bed for the wood wall plates which will support the roofing panels.

2 poutres and the wall plate on the back of the gite roof are now in position.

Let's hope it stays sunny as there's a lot more to do